Reflection

‘Reflection’ contains:

  • links to a selection of Christian songs & hymns (we would love to include your favourites so please send us details); and
  • Bible-based reflections from Ellel Ministries .

CHRISTIAN SONGS & HYMNS

10 000 Reasons by Matt Redman
Amazing Grace
And Can It Be
Faithful One So Unchanging
Here is Love
I Have a Shelter
In Christ Alone
Lord You Have My Heart
May the Words of My Mouth
‘My Lighthouse’
Show Your Power
The Lord’s My Shepherd by Stuart Townend
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
When I Survey the Wonderous Cross
When Peace Like a River

REFLECTIONS

The Challenge of the Wilderness by Philip Asselin

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Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

No-one voluntarily seeks the wilderness. By its nature it’s a place of isolation, emptiness, uncertainty and deprivation. Yet, it’s the very place the Holy Spirit led Jesus to after His baptism by John, which resulted in Holy Spirit descending upon Him like a dove, and Father God thundering out His affirmation of His beloved son. At the very cusp of His ministry Jesus was taken into the wilderness, not as a punishment, but as a preparation.

The wilderness, for Jesus, and for many of us, is also a place of silence with no distractions. It’s a time when God Himself can be silent and we can wonder what on earth is happening. Often, they seem to be linked to times of great sudden upheaval in our lives, where the landscape we were used to is changing. Why is God silent? Why am I here for so long? What is the point of it all? In the wilderness experiences we are left to wrestle with God. It’s a time of getting down to the reality of who we are and what we really believe.

Some of you may be experiencing the upheavals of life right now. Others may find themselves in the wilderness, where all that seems to face them is an uncertain future. What does God say? Does He come with a medical explanation, an economic one, or even a theological answer? No. He rarely comes with any of these, because they do not provide any real comfort. Instead He says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). He does not say, “Be still and know why.”

In the wilderness C.S Lewis said that, ‘We should bring to God what is in us, not what ought to be in us.’ The ‘oughts’ will keep us from telling the truth, and from feeling the truth, especially about our pain and confusion. The wilderness is a time of stripping away and then a time of preparation. The more we rebel against it the longer it can take. Jesus was there forty days and nights. When Satan came along, he found a different man from the one who had entered. Jesus was ready for him, and ready to begin His ministry, and ready to face the cross three years from then.

For those who are facing or going through some kind of wilderness right now, I would like to say: “If you will allow yourself to trust God through it, even though you might pray without receiving any answer, you will be made ready for what He has in store for you next. It’s not a punishment and it’s not that God has forgotten you. Jesus’ Father was in the wilderness with Him and He is in your wilderness with you. When you emerge, you will be a different man or woman from the one that went in. You will be strong in the Lord and made ready for whatever God has for you”.

Perhaps the following prayer might be an appropriate one for you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I admit to You that I don’t understand what is happening to me or why at the moment. The upheavals that have taken place seem to have created a wilderness experience for me. But Jesus is my example and I choose to trust Him. As things of my life are stripped away, I choose to trust You and bring to You my true feelings and beliefs. I ask You to reshape them into what they need to be. For Your glory, Amen.

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Light and Darkness by Christel Baxter

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

I recently read something that made me see this scripture in Psalm 23:4 in a different light. This verse speaks of the valley of the shadow of death. A shadow has no substance. A shadow isn’t even possible without the presence of light to give shape to the shadow. It is also true that darkness has no substance. It is simply the absence of light.

In Psalm 23:4 David, who wrote the Psalm, spoke about the shadow of death, but went on to say, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” It struck me that, even though there was a very ominous shadow present in this valley David referred to, this would imply that light had to be present. Perhaps that would explain David’s confident declaration that he did not fear. He also wrote in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread?” He had an intimate relationship and personal knowledge of the One who said, “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12). He understood that the Lord as His light was far more powerful than any darkness, or appearance thereof. “Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Psalm 139:12).

There are so many scriptures referring to the Lord as being the One who gives light and Himself is the Light. His very being is light and life! “In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it.” (John 1:4-5). How encouraging to know that we do not need to fear the shadows that life brings across our way. When we belong to the Lord, and we have His presence within us, we can know that we are never alone and left vulnerable to the devices of the enemy. He is our light ands, and the One who can never be overpowered by darkness or the shadow-filled seasons of life!

Prayer: Thank You so much, Lord, that I never need to be fearful when I feel overwhelmed by the shadows of this life. Thank You that You are the Light within me, and that You cover me and protect. “For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; the Lord my God illumines my darkness” Amen. (Psalm 18:28).

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The Lord is MY Shepherd! by Peter Horrobin

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“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-2

There can be no more encouraging verses of Scripture than these. Psalm 23 is the most well-known of all the Psalms for this very reason – it speaks of comfort and encouragement to men and women at every stage and in every condition of life.

God is unchangeable and cannot ever change His character. His heart is that of a Shepherd for His people and he longs to gather His sheep into His arms and speak to them words of comfort and blessing. Isaiah tell us in 40:11 that “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” This is the heart and character of our loving Creator God.

Then Jesus told the story of the shepherd who had a hundred sheep, but one of them had strayed and was lost – so he left the ninety-nine who were safe and went seeking the lost sheep till he found it. And what joy there was when the sheep that was lost was restored to the flock (Luke 15:1-7).

In all these Scriptures God is not really talking about sheep, He is talking about the people he loves and using sheep as a picture that anyone and everyone can understand, whatever their age and whatever their culture. It is a universal image that speaks to the very core of who we are as human beings. We all have a deep inner need of being loved, nurtured and cared for by our heavenly Father. And He is ready, willing and able!

There are seasons in life when we have different needs, according to the stage of the journey we have been walking through. Sometimes we are in need of rest in the human equivalent of green pastures, lying by still waters. At those times we can take in deeply of his loving provision, while he restores our soul. He wants to re-equip us for the road ahead.

Then He promises to lead us along paths of righteousness – and at that point we will need to exercise our free will and choose to follow in the direction that He is showing us. He is a good Shepherd and will not lead us in a direction that is contrary to His will and purpose for our lives. The heart of the message of these verses is that God can be trusted, so may I encourage you to trust Him now and always.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You are not only a good Shepherd, but You are also My Shepherd. Thank You for your promise to lead me in paths of righteousness. I choose now to follow where You lead as I trust You afresh for every day of the rest of my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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He Never Gave Up by Philip Asselin

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“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2b

Do you sometimes wonder if you really matter to God? I’m being honest now. As believers we can all boldly declare that God loves us totally and unconditionally and will never fail us. But I’m talking here about when we’re tired and exhausted, when everything seems stacked against us, and when everything we’ve trusted in and relied on seems to have failed, and we’re struggling to survive another day, maybe even another hour, let alone another week. Do we wonder then, “Do I really matter to God?”

Let me take you back 2,000 years to a Jewish carpenter called Jesus. The Bible tells us He was and is the Son of God; God in the flesh, one with the Father. We find Him rejected by His family, yet He never gave up. Folk from His own home-town tried to stone Him, yet He never gave up. He was hated by the religious leaders, who conspired against him, yet He never gave up.

He struggled in Gethsemane to be obedient to the Father’s will, and sweated great drops of blood. Yet He never gave up. He was betrayed by a close friend with a kiss, yet He never gave up. He was deserted by His followers, yet He never gave up. He was scourged so severely that His back was like a ploughed field, yet He never gave up. He was ridiculed and slapped around by Roman soldiers, yet He never gave up. He was forced to carry His own heavy cross, yet He never gave up. He was nailed by His hands and feet to a wooden cross, yet He never gave up.

He took upon Himself your sins and mine, past present and future, yet He never gave up. He experienced the rejection and separation from Father God for the first time in all eternity for your sins and mine, yet He never gave up. He suffered and died an excruciating death when He could have climbed down from the cross, and no-one would have blamed Him, but He never gave up.

Why? Why go through all of that, when He never deserved any of it? What could possibly have kept Him going through it all without ever giving up? Take a look again at the verse we started with. There’s the clue right there. ‘For the joy set before him he endured the cross’. What on earth could that joy have been that was so great, so incredible, so wondrous, so precious that the Son of God should determine that no suffering, no rejection, no pain could make Him give up? The answer is in three simple words, ‘you and me’. We were, and are, the joy that was set before Him. It’s our salvation. The moment we gave our lives over to Him and asked Him into our lives was, and is, that joy that was worth it all to Jesus. It’s the joy that He saw as He looked forward into 2017, and beyond.

Do you matter to God? When everything, that can possibly go wrong, goes wrong, and the enemy whispers to you that God doesn’t care, and you don’t really matter, think again about a God who chose never to give up on you, and never will, because you fill His heart with joy. Determine to go on one more hour, one more day, one more week, knowing He never gave up on you, and never will.

Prayer: Oh Lord, I’m so sorry I doubt You when things seem to be going wrong. Forgive me for listening to the enemy’s lies. “Thank You” seems totally inadequate when I remember what You suffered for me. I’m utterly amazed, and so grateful, that I’m the joy for which You chose never to give up. Help me to never give up on You. Amen.

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Shelter from the Storm by Tanya Person

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“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

Recently we had a huge storm at our house. There was lightning and thunder and hail. I was so glad to be indoors and watching it through the window. I felt safe because I was indoors. I opened the door at one point to see the hail better, but I quickly had to close the door because the hail was coming inside.

In our lives, we frequently can feel that we’re going through a storm. We may face trials and persecutions of many kinds. But we’re not without hope. God’s promised to be our shelter through it all. The Bible says the righteous run into Him and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).

I was very encouraged recently by reading Psalm 27:1-3 (NLT), ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident’.

God doesn’t say that we will not have problems in our lives, but he does tell us that we can be overcomers. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

We can be victorious over our enemies and we don’t need to fear. We need to run to the Lord and find our strength in Him. Psalm 27 finishes off with verse 14, which says, ‘Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord’.

We sometimes look for a quick answer to our problems, but, as we run to the Lord, we need to be patient, brave, and courageous. He’ll protect us through the storms in our lives.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You promise to be a strong tower for us. Give us the patience to wait for You, and the courage to run to You as our strong tower and shelter from all the storms of our lives. Amen.

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Water Made into Wine by Sue Griffiths

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Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet’. They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.  John 2: 1-11,

I wonder what we might have chosen as a first miracle for Jesus to perform. Well, He actually chooses to change water into wine. Not just one bottle, but six or eight jars of water, each containing between twenty and thirty gallons. That’s somewhere between 120 and 240 gallons of wine.

Jesus says that He hasn’t come to condemn the world but to save. He says He comes so that we might have eternal life, abundant life, life not death (John 3:17). And His first miracle says something unmistakeable about who He is and about His attitude to life.

He blesses this family who are celebrating the marriage of their son or daughter. He blesses the fun, the celebration, love and family life. He celebrates festivities and relationships and families. And, my goodness! You can bet that people from the next villages down the road would have joined in that celebration after a bonanza like that.

What do you think Jesus’ reputation might have been locally after the wedding at Cana? We think of John the Baptist coming with a stern message and a call for repentance. But Jesus comes to affirm and encourage and bring joy to those whose lives He touches. He accepts. He gives. He gives freely and joins in the dancing and the fun. He’s not a killjoy. He comes with love and acceptance, to make things good.

On this occasion, at the wedding, He steps in to provide something that was probably a real burden to provide for guests if you were a hardworking man and not very well off. He enabled the family to entertain like royalty and to hold their heads high, feeling that they had sent their daughter off with a great wedding party. And Jesus is like that. He helps us feel good about ourselves as His love and abundance rubs off on us and we get to know Him.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus that You delight to bring us joy, that You love to bless families and friendships and to bring good into our communities. As I freely receive Your love, Your affirmation and Your abundant life in my life today, would You help me, today, to be someone who brings joy and good things to those people around me. Amen.

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My Lighthouse by Liz Griffin

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Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John‬ ‭8:12

On a recent visit to Ireland, our friends took us to see an interesting old, medieval lighthouse. It was the monks from Tintern Abbey who kept the beacon light burning on Hook Lighthouse to warn ships where the rocks were and guide them safely to the harbour. They had a little chapel in the lighthouse, where I’m sure they prayed for those at sea to be safe during the storms.

Tintern abbey was built because a knight called William Marshal had come to Ireland for the first time to see some land which he had inherited. There was a storm and he nearly died at sea. He prayed to God and promised, if his life was spared, he would build a monastery wherever he landed on the shore. So, when he got safely ashore, he was faithful to his promise and had the abbey built. He sent over some monks from Tintern Abbey in Wales, which he was the patron of, and they ran it, and gave it the same name.

The lighthouse has remained, now operating automatically, for over 800 hundred years, providing a sure and certain guide for ships to find their bearings. Its flashing light has a certain timed sequence that is unique and unmistakeable at night, and, by day, its unique pattern of bands of black painted on a white background is a visual aid to those at sea. They are reassured when they catch sight of it. Sadly, we found the site of the old chapel was locked up and now just had a mounted photograph across the doorway.

The light which has come into the world is Jesus. He remains ever the same, although our society changes its ideas and believes it can do well enough without a guiding light to show the right way home to harbour. There are still dangerous rocks out there in the darkness which can cause us to be shipwrecked and perish.

I believe that, like the monks of Tintern Abbey, Jesus wants us to be keepers of His light, tending it and making sure it burns brightly and clearly in the darkness.

In my wrestling and in my doubts, in my failures You won’t walk out. Your great love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea …
In the silence, You won’t let go. In the questions, Your truth will hold. Your great love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea …
My lighthouse, my lighthouse, shining in the darkness. I will follow You.
My lighthouse, my lighthouse, I will trust the promise.
You will carry me safe to shore …
I won’t fear what tomorrow brings. With each morning I’ll rise and sing.
My God’s love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea
… (Rend Collective)

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You are the light of the world and that You are my lighthouse. Please help me to shine Your light clearly to point the way of salvation to those who are lost in the darkness and stormy seas. May they find the way through the rocks to the safe harbour You have for them. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Our First Love by Philip Asselin

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“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4

There’s something special about our first love. Usually it’s a person, but it can be almost anything; a car, a sport, a place we always find ourselves returning to, or a hobby. It holds a special place in our heart. Does the Lord hold that special place? It’s easy for us to say “yes”, without really thinking this through.

The Church at Ephesus was founded by Paul, and had many great preachers there, including the Apostle John himself. In the letter God inspired John to write to it, there were a lot of things to commend the church. They weren’t afraid of hard work. They were very patient, and yet also uncompromising when faced with false teachers. These were all very good things, but the Lord had one thing against them, and it was so significant it threatened to undo all the good. They had left their first love, and, if they didn’t repent quickly, God Himself would remove His presence from the church.

Notice that they hadn’t ‘lost’ their first love. They knew where it was, and what it was. They had just left it. Other things had slowly taken away its pre-eminence in their lives. They were full of good works, and they had much sound doctrine, but the love of God had just got crowded out. It happens slowly. It happens insidiously. We think we need to attend all those church meetings, and we need to spend lots of time preparing sermons and Bible studies. So, we find ourselves busy with ‘doing’ the works of God, when He would rather we spent time with Him, just ‘being’ like a little child talking to Him, and listening to Him.

Or do we allow God to be crowded out by ‘me time’ on social media, engrossed in TV programmes, or watching sport. I’m not saying those things are bad in themselves, but have we allowed them to crowd Jesus out?

In a 2011 interview with Billy Graham, he said, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d spend more time in meditation and prayer, and just telling the Lord how much I love Him.” I find that an amazing and challenging comment. This man had served God in so many ways, preached to hundreds of millions of people, and led untold numbers to Christ. Yet, looking back on a long life, he wished much more of it was spent with Jesus.

Let me take you to Acts 4:13, ‘Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognised that they had been with Jesus’. Wow! Don’t you wish that were you? I know I wish it were me. The truth is that it can be you and me. The question is, where is our first love? Is Jesus first, last, or somewhere in the middle? Today, let’s begin that journey of returning to our first love. He hasn’t moved. He hasn’t deserted us. He isn’t angry. He’s where He’s always been, where we left Him, and He’s waiting patiently for us. Let’s hurry back today.

Prayer: Oh Lord, please forgive me for neglecting You, my true first love. You’ve never left me, but I’ve left You. I’ve been caught up in the busyness of serving You, doing so much stuff, when in reality only one thing is necessary, and that’s spending quality time with You. The rest flows out of that, not the other way round. Please help me to return to You today. Amen.

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Our God is Able by Margaret Silvester

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I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”. Psalm 91:2

I was recently asked what scripture I would choose to be framed as a picture, because it currently meant something special to me. My reply was immediate, because God had intimately spoken to me through the above text. When it duly appeared in a small frame, I was delighted. To know that God is a refuge and a fortress is one thing, but to know that He is my refuge and my fortress is another. One is knowledge; the other is experience.

Refuge and fortress are words that speak of shelter, protection, safety and trust. When life is unpredictable we may have our own hiding places, which can come in the shape of people, relationships or material things that we think will bring some peace, order, relief or happiness into our present confusion. But there’s only one true refuge and fortress – the one true God who’s unchanging and steadfast, and who will never fail.

The Bible tells us several times that our God is able. He’s omnipotent, so He has unlimited power; omniscient, so He knows everything; omnipresent, so He’s present everywhere at the same time. We have an amazing God who works everything for His own glory and chooses to include us in His plans and purposes.

He is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20). This means He works beyond our prayers and dreams by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because there are mysteries between God’s sovereign will and our prayers, our heart’s cry and the words of our lips should always be, “Your will be done. Lord, today, in my life and through my life, work Your own eternal purposes to Your own glory.”

He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them’ (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus saves completely, because Jesus is alive. He continually offers forgiveness, restoration, redemption and intimacy with His Father, to whom He intercedes on behalf of His children. If you’re saved you’re saved completely and you belong to Him forever. One day we’ll see Him and be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. In the meantime, isn’t it wonderful to know that Jesus, who’s at the right hand of the Father, never ceases to pray for us.

He is able to keep you from falling and present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy’ (Jude v 24). Life’s road can sometimes be quite rough and hard, but we’re never alone. We don’t have an onlooker, but a faithful Saviour, who never leaves us. He walks beside us with comfort and compassion, giving us all the strength we could ever need, and He’ll never ever leave us. It’s very releasing to realise that, in your own strength, you don’t have the resources for the uphill road, or, indeed, for anything that will truly please the Lord. It’s also comforting to know that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and He alone can keep us from falling.

Prayer: Father, thank You that You’re a rock and a fortress, and You’re also One who’s filled with compassion, tender love and keeping power. In my weakness, I turn to You today for your strength to be made perfect in my weakness. In the power of Your Holy Spirit, please use me today for Your glory. I pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

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Brother at the Helm by Jim Person

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Jesus makes men holy. He takes away their sins. Both Jesus and the ones being made holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them His brothers.” Hebrews 2:11

The boat was being tossed like a cork on the surface of the sea. My brother and I had just finished an exhausting day of fishing and were returning to our home for a well-deserved rest from our labour.

My hand shook as I tried to steer our small boat toward the safety of the harbour against the tide and wind. My futile attempts placed fear in my heart, as I realised the limits of my ability to steer it through a riptide and 7-foot waves with the tops of them churned into a white froth that smashed against the side of our boat, threateningly pushing us closer to the black rocks with each pounding wave.

I realised I needed to relinquish my hold on the helm to my older brother, if we were ever to reach the safety of the harbour, as he had more experience and had gone this way before. As he guided our small boat expertly through to the safety of the harbor, a great weight lifted from me.

Are we not like this in our lives in relation to Jesus? Is He not more capable to handle the stormy seas of our lives? Jesus has gone before us and has the experience we need to navigate the storms of our lives.

Today, in the midst of your storm, release your hold on your life, and let Jesus steer your vessel into the safe harbour He has for you.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for caring for me. I know You know the best way through this storm I’m in. I choose now to let go and let You control where I go. I surrender my hold on the helm. Amen.

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Love Isn’t Love Until You Give It Away by Philip Asselin

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“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Mary Martin, star of the Broadway version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, was about to go on stage one night, as she had a thousand times before, when a note was handed to her. The note was signed by Oscar Hammerstein, who was on his death-bed. The note was short. It simply said: ‘Dear Mary, A bell’s not a bell until you ring it. A song’s not a song until you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away’.

When the performance was over the cast literally rushed her backstage to congratulate her. She was always a superb performer, but they had never seen her sing or act as she had that night. So, Mary read them Hammerstein’s note and said, “Tonight, I gave my love away”.

Jesus didn’t beat about the bush and offer some vague suggestions about love. He actually commanded us to love on another. To ensure we really understood the message He demonstrated what that love is like by dying on the cross, bearing our sin and shame and suffering in our place – because He loved us first.

No matter how rich or poor we are, where we’re from, our qualifications (or lack of them), or our age and social standing, we all have love that’s available to be given away. How do we give it away? By a kind word, a loving gesture, a hug, a smile, a note or letter, a helping hand, being there for someone in need, sitting with someone who has suffered loss. The list goes on and on.

I wonder if you’ve ever been given a gift that seemed inappropriate, or just odd. I have recently. It was a blue fluffy penguin! Lovely for a baby or young child, but for a sixty-five-year old man it was a bit odd. I know it was done with the best of intentions, but sometimes the gifts we give and receive may seem out of place, or not at the right time. That never applies to love. It’s always appropriate. It’s always at a good time. It always fits. In fact, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13 says that ‘love never fails’.

Let me bring you back to the note from Oscar Hammerstein. He was spot on when he wrote, ‘Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away’. Love in our heart was put there by Jesus. It’s a gift of God, and yes, some people are able to feel it, and access it more easily than others. But, we all have the capacity for it, and it isn’t activated until it’s given away.

Until then it’s a nice warm feeling, a good intention, a comforting thought, but it achieves nothing outside of us until it’s activated. Giving it away triggers that activation process, and its effects can be incredibly far reaching. Today choose to activate the love within you by giving it away. Find different ways to show that love to others, and watch the results, as you cause that love to ripple out to others.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your love that I feel in my life, the love You gave for me and demonstrated so powerfully on the cross. I know I’m not intended to sit on it, but rather to give it away, to create a chain reaction daily in other people’s lives as I give away, in a multitude of ways, the love You’ve poured out on me. In so doing, I don’t just bless others, but bless myself, and bring praise and honour to the One who gave it to me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Moving Forward by Patricia Lake

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

These words must have been so comforting to Joshua as the mantle now passed to him, after Moses’ death, to lead the children of Israel forward into the Promised Land.

It is also God’s command and promise to each of us as we move forward in our personal journeying with Him, especially if the road ahead gets difficult, or unexpected storms come across our path. Jesus further instructs and encourages His disciples to ‘abide’ in Him, and if we are where He wants us to be, in His plan and purposes, then we can be reassured and at peace, since nothing takes Him by surprise, as He knows the way ahead, and has the bigger picture. Unexpected circumstances can often test our level of trust and resolve, but our Heavenly Father is always watching over us.

Maybe He is asking you to step out of the boat into a new venture, or new season, and you’re feeling quite nervous. Don’t worry. He’s riding the ocean waves and with your hand in His, He’s there for you as He was for Peter. He wants you to enjoy the journey and not be afraid of it. You are in the safest hands in the universe. He won’t drop you!

Or maybe you have received some disappointing news, from an unexpected source. Remember, He knows the way through the wilderness or through the desert. He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, and He will show you the way forward.

Or He may just be asking you to stand by your post like a soldier on duty at Buckingham Palace, and He wants you to trust Him with the length of service, however short or long that may be. The heat of the day may encroach on the spiritual armour you need to wear (Ephesians 6), but keep all pieces of your armour in place, for it will both protect you and enable you to combat approaching enemy attacks in testing times. Never ever give up.

No matter our circumstances, we are instructed to keep to the narrow way (Matthew 7:14), for it is the way of life. Each of our journeys is unique to each individual, but the presence of our Lord Jesus is with us personally in all of our circumstances, and we have His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

In John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, ‘Christian’ chose to ascend the hill ‘Difficulty’, though clambering on his hands and knees, for it led to life, while his two companions chose what seemed easier routes, but which ended in catastrophe. Easier options will often present themselves when there is a choice to be made, but the way of the Lord must be the only choice for those who belong to Christ.

Whatever each day brings, know that you can trust Him, for He is trustworthy, and He is ‘with you to deliver you’ (Jeremiah 1:8).

Prayer: Help me to keep my eyes on You, my hand in Yours, and my ears open to Your every whisper, that I might remain in You in all circumstances. Thank You, Lord, for guiding me safely through life’s precarious journey. Amen.

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